As the father of a two year old girl who is as innocent as she is beautiful, I can't help but worry. Worry about her future, worry about the dark and often cruel world that she will - in far too few years, become aware of.
Frequently my worries dwell on that most insidious and vile excuse for a human being, the school bully. He or she us found at every level of schooling, public and private. Whether by fists or words (which can be the most harmful) the bully preys on the gentle and the kind. The bully is reprehensible, a true manifestation of evil as far as evil goes without actually murdering or maiming (at least most of the time).
I was a target throughout my school days, but I made it through relatively unscathed physically or mentally by simple avoidance. I got beat up in third grade (body slammed into concrete) and though traumatic, I bounced back quickly. My broken collar bone healed fast, and my spirit was undeterred.
I must have faith that whatever trials my angel faces, she too will be able to withstand the trauma of small minded brutes. I can only teach her what I was taught, that respect, love and kindness are the best things to put forward in this world. That anger and fear will only rot away at the soul. We should feel pity for the wretched we encounter, and not let anger fester in our hearts.
Don't get me wrong. Sometimes, the bully needs to get his nose bloodied. Witness our world today. But in day to day life, we as fellow humans must pick our battles very carefully. 999 times out of 1000, it's just not worth it.
In the day to day, I find that the bullies still exist in the adult world, more genteel, but no less angry inside. Whether it's the woman barking over my shoulder at the salesclerk, or the man on the phone who cuts me off and flips me the bird; I really try to laugh at them - they are pathetic.
And most of all, I really search for the good people out there. A smile and a pleasant remark go a long way, even in Los Angeles. Not a flippant and insincere "Have a nice day." but a genuine word or act of kindness, is a rejuvenating jolt to the heart.
After the aforementioned cutting off and bird flipping, the perpetrator roared off and ran a red light. I sat there at the intersection, steaming at the bully. A lady in a beat up Honda pulled up a long side. I glanced over. "Now that is a fool!" she said with a smile and a shake of the head. A wave of relief and gratefulness washed over me. I returned the smile and we chatted briefly but heartily about jackass drivers, culminating in a good laugh before driving away with grins and waves.
The world has a lot more people like that lady than like the cell phone bird flipper, and that is what I must pass on to my daughter. The bullies will always be there, but they will never win. Not as long as most of us take the road of love and understanding.
(And the one in a thousand kick to the groin.)